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Baggage Check: Can new relationship go the distance?

By Andrea Bonior
Andrea Bonior
Andrea Bonior (that's BONN-yer!) is a licensed clinical psychologist, professor, and writer. She completed her M.A. and Ph.D. in clinical psychology focusing on individual and group psychotherapy for young adults and specializing in the treatment of anxiety disorders and depression.

Q: Do you think a relationship can work as long-distance when it hasn’t become serious yet? A guy I’ve been dating for three months is taking a job transfer to Boston. Part of me is wondering if I should expend my emotional energy trying to keep something going with him. He talks about how cheap the flights are, but I don’t know that I’m there yet.

It seems your real question is, “How can I get more serious with someone I’m not interested in getting more serious with?”

Throwing a long-distance angle into a new relationship is tough, and careful deliberations are imperative. But I’m sensing a major “meh” on your part. You’ve been dating for three months, not three days – motivation should be higher. When you’re into someone, your instinct is to think of ways to make it work, rather than trying to get a random psychologist to convince you. You’re right that a long-distance move can change a relationship’s trajectory: Some stall for years, and others hit the fast track because you’re living together for a few days at a time. But first, you need to want to be in said relationship.

Pride or prejudice?

Q: My mother is constantly making negative comments about this new guy I’m dating. I don’t know what’s with her, because she’s usually pretty supportive. It makes me not want to share anything with her. I’ve tried telling her to lay off, but she keeps at it and is being very judgmental. I’m wondering whether it’s a religious prejudice, since he’s from a different faith.

The urge to not share anything with your mother might be a good one. When someone repeatedly makes us feel bad about an aspect of our lives, as long as we’re sure their concerns aren’t legitimate, we need to do what we can to shut them up.

In this case, that means not bringing up this guy as much – not in a vindictive “Mom, you’ve ruined my opinion of you and I’m never telling you anything again” kind of way, but in a subtle strengthening of your boundaries. But do ask yourself whether there’s any credence to her concerns, especially because she’s been supportive before. Bigotry is unacceptable, of course, but sometimes dysfunctional relationships begin with friends and family looking on in horror at the person’s denial of warning signs.

Andrea Bonior is a clinical psychologist and the author of “The Friendship Fix.” www.drandreabonior.com.
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